Buy Unlimited Training licenses in June and get an extra 3 months for free! ☀️

Comparing CISM with CISSP: Ease and Difficulty

  • Is CISM easier than CISSP?
  • Published by: André Hammer on May 18, 2024

Cybersecurity certifications like CISM and CISSP are popular choices. They give valuable insights into information security.

CISM and CISSP differ in ease and difficulty. Knowing this can help people choose their cybersecurity career path.

Let's compare CISM and CISSP to find the right choice for you.

CISM vs CISSP Certification

CISM Overview

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification by ISACA focuses on:

  • Security management

  • Information security governance

  • Risk management

  • Compliance

To get CISM, you need:

  • At least five years of experience in information security

  • Minimum of three years in security management roles

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification:

  • Covers various security topics

  • Security controls

  • Incident response

  • Data security

For CISSP, you need:

  • Minimum of five years of paid work experience

  • Two or more of the eight content domains

  • At least four years of direct full-time security work experience

Both certifications are valuable and can lead to leadership roles in cybersecurity. CISM focuses on security management and governance, while CISSP covers a wider range of security topics.

CISSP Overview

The CISSP certification validates professionals' expertise in information security. It is highly regarded in the industry.

It covers domains like security and risk management, asset security, security architecture and engineering, communication and network security, identity and access management, security assessment and testing, security operations, and software development security.

Individuals who obtain this certification show proficiency in security management, risk management, and leadership.

This certification boosts employability and opens doors to senior security roles.

It highlights expertise in data security, compliance, and incident response.

Certified individuals must earn continuing professional education (CPE) credits to stay updated on trends and technologies.

Eligibility Requirements for CISM and CISSP

CISM Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the CISM certification, individuals need at least five years of work experience in information security management. This should focus on security governance, risk management, and compliance.

In addition, candidates must have a minimum of three years of experience in three out of four content domains specified by ISACA:

  • Information security governance

  • Information risk management

  • Information security program development and management

  • Information security incident management

The CISM certification emphasises security management rather than technical aspects. This makes it suitable for professionals aiming for leadership roles in information security.

Meeting these requirements in education and work experience can boost individuals' employability and credibility as security professionals. It creates opportunities for senior management positions in organisations.

Globally respected, the CISM certification is one of the leading security certifications. It provides a pathway for professionals to showcase their expertise in security management and decision-making. This helps to strengthen security programs and controls in IT environments.

CISSP Eligibility Requirements

To get CISSP certification, individuals need at least five years of full-time work experience in two or more of the eight CISSP content domains.

Work experience is vital for meeting CISSP eligibility requirements. It shows a practical understanding of information security.

While there are no specific educational requirements for CISSP, a relevant degree can substitute for one year of work experience.

Holding certifications like CISM from ISACA can also help meet CISSP certification criteria.

Work experience improves credentials and enhances employability for senior management roles in information security and cyber security.

By fulfilling CISSP eligibility with work experience, certifications, and education, professionals can lead security programs, make key decisions, and respond effectively to incidents in complex IT environments.

Exam Details for CISM and CISSP

CISM Exam Details

The CISM exam format has multiple-choice questions to test knowledge. Candidates must achieve a minimum scaled score to pass.

The exam lasts around four hours, covering areas like governance, risk management, and compliance.

Holding this credential can boost employability for leadership roles in information security.

Earning CPE credits by obtaining the CISM keeps professionals updated on data security trends. This helps them be valuable assets in cybersecurity and digital trust.

CISSP Exam Details

The CISSP exam covers many information security topics across eight content domains. These include security and risk management, asset security, security architecture, communication and network security, identity and access management, security assessment, security operations, and software development security.

Compared to other cybersecurity certifications like CISM, CISSP is often seen as more difficult. This is because it focuses on technical details and requires deep knowledge of security controls and incident response.

To keep their CISSP certification, individuals need to earn Continuing Professional Education credits and follow the (ISC)² Code of Ethics. This ensures that CISSP holders stay up-to-date and ethical in the information security field.

Is CISM easier than CISSP?

Exam Difficulty

The CISM exam and the CISSP exam are respected certifications in information security. Both cover important content domains like security management, governance, risk management, and compliance.

The CISM certification by ISACA requires more work experience in information security than the CISSP certification.

The CISM exam focuses more on security management and leadership roles, while the CISSP exam covers a wider range of security topics such as data security, incident response, and security controls.

Test-takers often find the CISM exam challenging due to its emphasis on risk management and compliance. In contrast, the CISSP exam is known for its comprehensive coverage of cybersecurity topics.

Both certifications provide valuable credentials for cyber professionals looking to progress and showcase their expertise in information security.

CISM vs CISSP Difficulty

Professionals in cybersecurity find getting a CISM certification less challenging than a CISSP certification. CISM focuses on security governance and risk management, attracting those with security management experience.

In contrast, CISSP covers a wider range of information security topics, appealing to those eyeing leadership roles. The CISM exam goes deep into security management practices, while CISSP covers various security controls and incident response.

Many find CISSP tougher due to its broad content, while CISM seems more doable with the right background. Both certifications, from ISACA and a certification consortium, boost chances for senior management roles by showing expertise in different security fields.

Difficulty levels are personal, varying based on strengths and interests in the cybersecurity field.

Job Opportunities and Salary

Job Roles for CISM and CISSP Holders

Individuals with CISM and CISSP certifications can have various job roles in information security and risk management. These roles include security management, governance, leadership, risk management, and senior management.

The salaries for CISM and CISSP holders in these positions can differ based on factors like work experience, credentials, and industry.

Both certifications, provided by ISACA and ISC2, need continuing professional education credits for certification maintenance, indicating a dedication to ongoing learning and expertise.

CISSP certification focuses on data security, compliance, and security controls, while CISM emphasises security programs, incident response, and management certification.

With the increasing significance of cybersecurity, individuals with these certifications are highly sought after. They are also proud members of professional associations and certification consortiums, providing support, webinars, and access to certification forums for networking and career growth.

Average Salary Comparison

Professionals with a CISM certification earn higher average salaries than those with a CISSP certification.

This difference in average salaries is due to factors like work experience, specific roles, and industry.

Industries needing security and risk management expertise may pay more to CISM holders.

The emphasis on data security, compliance, and governance has raised the value of CISM credentials in leadership roles.

There is an increasing demand for incident response and security controls expertise in IT environments.

Continuous professional education and participation in security forums can boost employability and salary growth for CISM and CISSP holders.

Recertification Requirements

For individuals with a CISM certification, maintaining it requires earning CPE credits through activities like webinars, certification forums, or attending industry events.

Engaging in leadership roles within security management, incident response, or risk management can also help with recertification.

On the other hand, CISSP certification holders must also accumulate CPE credits, focusing on areas like data security, compliance, and security controls, showcasing the certification's broader scope.

Both certifications demand continuous learning in the ever-evolving information security field. CISM highlights governance and risk management, while CISSP covers content domains such as access control or security programs.

Both credentials offer pathways to senior roles in cybersecurity, enhancing employability and showcasing expertise to prospective employers.

Recertification is an ongoing journey for cybersecurity professionals dedicated to maintaining the high standards of certifications like CISM or CISSP.

Cost Comparison

When thinking about the costs of getting a CISM certification compared to a CISSP certification, it's important to consider different things.

The exam fees might differ, with CISM being a bit cheaper. But there are other costs to think about, like study materials, training courses, and renewal fees for CPE credits.

For those with less experience in security management, meeting the CISSP prerequisites could be harder. This might mean extra costs to gain the needed experience.

Both certifications have advantages for job opportunities and advancing in security leadership roles.

Deciding which certification to go for should depend on your career goals, how you see your future, and how much you're ready to invest in boosting your credentials in the always-changing cybersecurity field.

Key takeaways

The Certified Information Security Manager certification focuses on managing information security programs.

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification covers a broader range of topics, including security policy development and risk management.

CISM is easier to obtain than CISSP, as it requires fewer years of work experience and has a shorter exam duration.

Both certifications are highly respected in the information security industry and can greatly enhance career opportunities for professionals in the field.

Readynez offers a 4-day CISM Course and Certification Program, providing you with all the learning and support you need to successfully prepare for the exam and certification. The CISM course, and all our other ISACA courses, are also included in our unique Unlimited Security Training offer, where you can attend the CISM and 60+ other Security courses for just €249 per month, the most flexible and affordable way to get your Security Certifications.

Please reach out to us with any questions or if you would like a chat about your opportunity with the CISM certification and how you best achieve it.


What are the key differences in ease and difficulty between CISM and CISSP?

CISM is easier due to its focus on security management, while CISSP is more difficult because it covers a wider range of security topics, including technical details. For example, CISM requires 4 years of work experience in information security, while CISSP requires 5 years of experience in two or more domains of security.

Which certification is considered easier to obtain: CISM or CISSP?

Obtaining the CISM certification is generally considered easier than obtaining the CISSP certification due to its narrower focus on information security management compared to the broader scope of CISSP.

What are the common challenges faced by candidates when preparing for the CISM exam compared to the CISSP exam?

Common challenges for candidates preparing for the CISM exam include a greater focus on governance, risk management, and compliance compared to the more technical CISSP exam. This requires a shift in study approach and mindset to grasp concepts such as information security governance frameworks.

How do the pass rates for CISM and CISSP exams compare?

The pass rate for the CISM exam is generally higher than the CISSP exam. For example, in 2020, the pass rate for CISM was around 64%, while the pass rate for CISSP was around 65%.

Yes, obtaining both CISM and CISSP certifications can significantly enhance career advancement in the field of information security. While CISSP is focused on a broader range of security topics, CISM is more focused on management and governance. Having both certifications can demonstrate expertise in both technical and managerial aspects of information security.

Two people monitoring systems for security breaches

Unlimited Security Training

Get Unlimited access to ALL the LIVE Instructor-led Security courses you want - all for the price of less than one course. 

  • 60+ LIVE Instructor-led courses
  • Money-back Guarantee
  • Access to 50+ seasoned instructors
  • Trained 50,000+ IT Pro's



Price: {{item.ItemPriceExVatFormatted}} {{item.Currency}}